Oh what joy to be on the move again! I didn’t realize how itchy my feet had become until we started chewing up the highway. For those who don’t know, the Cayman job was a no go, so here we go…to Baja, Mexico that is.
The Plan: A long, meandering drive during which we would stop and enjoy every bit of scenery we’ve always wanted to but couldn’t while towing a boat/jetskis/etc. as well as stops to visit friends enroute.
Final Destination: Posada Concepcion, near Mulege, in Baja California Sur, Mexico (also known as paradise).
Stop #1: The Benedetti Estate in Petaluma, California.
So here I am, typing away and glancing out the window at gently rolling, green hills dotted with farms and oak trees. In the living room there is a blazing fire and a large cozy couch calling my name. Our first stop is a long-overdue visit with Fred’s step-sister Anne, husband Dan and their many kids & grandkids. But more about that later.
The drive here was punctuated with, "ooh"s, "aah"s and "wow!"s. From the towering redwood trees to the heart-stopping cliff views of the Pacific Ocean, every mile was a sensory buffet. I felt a little sorry, however, for the poor folks stuck driving behind those ‘damn Canadians’ who were slowing to take a picture every five minutes. I can just hear the conversation, "Geez, don’t they have the ocean in that country??!" And, of course, there were the little eccentricities that make road travel so rewarding – like the Bigfoot museum, the gallery of wood "burl" art, and the giant Paul Bunyan & Babe the blue ox.
Every year we have traveled to Baja we have taken boring old I-5 but this time we turned off at Grant’s Pass in Oregon and crossed over to the coastal highway. Now, I know our map isn’t very detailed but really there should be some sort of a warning, such as, "This highway is treacherously steep, perilously narrow and dangerously curvy…it’s best, for everyone’s sanity, if you do not let your wife do the driving on this part, especially when it is dark". Yes, it would have been nice to have that little warning. Thank goodness we decided to call it a day in Ft.Bragg and leave all of Hwy 1 – the worst nail-biting section of all – to the Prez in the daylight!
We’ve already racked up about 50 Road Karma points. You can never have too much RK. As we’re heading downhill on the aforementioned steep, winding road at night, we see a sketchy looking van on the side of the road, with three even sketchier looking people waving us down for help. I rolled down my window just a smidge and a boozy, hillbilly voice asked us if we had any jumper cables. We did not. Let me be crystal clear here folks, at this point, yours truly would have been very happy to simply drive away but the Prez, no doubt intrigued by the challenge, told me to pull over and he’d see if he could help them. Reluctantly I pulled onto the tiny shoulder and watched vigilantly as the Prez, jumbo flashlight/club in hand, went to check everything out. Next thing I knew we were in full Macgyver mode, with our truck butted against their dilapidated van and Prez improvising jumper cables out of stereo wires and chewing gum. Our three drunken friends watched in utter amazement as Fast Freddy’s fingers flew, "Hey, are yew some kinda electrical injuneer or somethin?" When that van fired to life, I thought they were going to pounce on my husband and start kissing him. Luckily the only smooching was from me – he really still is my hero you know.
Now this brings me to this week’s topic and our current hosts.
Let me ask you something, would you have stopped, in the pitch black, in the middle of nowhere, for a group of people that looked like they might have been extras in the movie "Deliverance"? I wouldn’t have. Most people wouldn’t have. And that’s a little sad to me because they weren’t bad people (as far as we know), just maybe not as educated or well-off as most of us. Maybe life hasn’t been kind to them but that’s no reason why the rest of us shouldn’t be.
And what does this have to do with our hosts? Well, part of what I look forward to when we come to visit here, is the overwhelming spirit of love, kindness and generosity that the Benedetti family (and all of their friends too, it would seem) possess. The first time I met Dan & Anne and their kids Marcus, Joanie and Niesha, I was struck by how instantly welcome I felt. Not just welcome, but welcome on a mere three hours notice, on Easter Sunday, during a family function, sticky and grungy from the road.
When I think of the "All American Family", I think of the Benedettis. They are not perfect, of course, no family is, but they are as close to it as I’ve ever witnessed. "I love you" is not just a casual sentiment tossed around out of habit between family members here, no, it is a heartfelt declaration and a reminder of how grateful and happy they are to have one another and all their loved ones. And it is within this circle of happiness that it becomes painfully obvious how lacking in love the world really is.
When is the last time you took a genuine moment out of your day to look your spouse, child or parent in the eye and tell them, sincerely, how much you love them, how thankful you are for having them in your life? It may seem like a small thing. You may think that it isn’t necessary, that they know how you feel. But let’s be honest, who doesn’t like to hear that they are loved? And the funny thing about love is that it’s kind of like a virus, it spreads.
We have had such a wonderful time visiting and enjoying the Benedettis company – and the wine glasses that never seem to empty! Sadly, Anne was knocked out by a nasty stomache flu on the day of our arrival but finally managed to make an appearance. Not to take anything away from Dan, but it is always nice to have the real head of the household around! We have feasted on crab, stuffed sausages and shared stories (often there seems to be two versions of the story, funny about that). Emily was able to spend some quality time with Norman, the black lab, although Norm was a little disappointed that he didn’t get to eat five pounds of her food like the last visit.
We will be pulling out tomorrow and making our way to see "Stunt Woman Supreme", Liz, in Twenty-Nine Palms California. Though, physically, we will be leaving the Benedettis behind, I know we will be carrying their spirit with us which is the best Road Karma of all. I hope that we can learn to always have that spirit and to share a little more love with, not only our friends and family, but, more importantly, with those who literally or figuratively are broken down.
"What the world needs now is love, sweet love,
That’s the only thing that there’s just too little of."